Copper and nanostructured anatase rutile and carbon coatings induce adaptive antibiotic resistance

Alibe Wasa, Jack Aitken, Hyunwoo Jun, Catherine Bishop, Susan Krumdieck, William Godsoe, Jack A. Heinemann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Contaminated surfaces are vehicles for the spread of infectious disease-causing microorganisms. A strategy to prevent their spread is applying antimicrobial coatings to surfaces. Both nanostructured anatase rutile and carbon (NsARC), a TiO2 formulation, and copper are examples of antimicrobial agents that are used in making or coating door handles and similar surfaces, to reduce microbial loads. Antimicrobial surfaces have been extensively tested for antimicrobial activity but not sublethal effects, such as exposure-associated multiple antibiotic resistance phenotypes usually caused by induction of efflux pump genes. The possibility of NsARC and copper inducing indicative efflux pump pathways was investigated by monitoring the expression of mScarlet fluorescent protein (FP) in two reporter strains of Escherichia coli. There was an increase in the expression of FP in the reporter strains exposed to NsARC and copper relative to the inert control composed of stainless steel. Furthermore we tested E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus following 8 h of exposure to NsARC for changes in resistance to selected antibiotics. E. coli that were exposed to NsARC became more susceptible to kanamycin but there was no significant change in susceptibility of S. aureus to any tested antibiotics. These findings suggests that even though NsARC and copper are antimicrobial, they also have some potential to cause unintended phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117
JournalAMB Express
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2022


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Antimicrobial coatings
  • Copper
  • TiO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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